Piedmont-Coastal Repeater Network
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is PCRN?
A: PCRN is a network of Amateur Radio repeaters that are capable of being linked together when necessary for emergency communications and routine amateur communications. Some of the repeaters are owned and operated by PCRN and others are affiliated with PCRN but owned by others or by clubs.
Q: Where does PCRN get its funds to operate?
A: Largely, funding comes from the founder, Danny Hampton, K4ITL. There are “Supporting Members” of the organization who make annual donations to the cause to help keep it going.
Q: Why would anyone want to contribute funds to PCRN if the repeaters are open?
A: Well, the Amateur Radio tradition is to help support at least one repeater - usually, the one used most often. Many repeaters are supported by clubs that owns and operates them and their members are considered supporters. PCRN is not a “club” but, in some respects, operates like one. We have established a “Supporting Membership” structure under which we supply detailed usage information to those who support us with a minimum donation of $20 per year. The information package consists of a list of access codes for all the linked repeaters in the network, with updated information as it becomes available.
Q: How do I become a Supporting Member?
A: You can mail a check for at least $20 to:
P.O. Box 12734
Raleigh, NC 27605
You can also donate online at http://pcrn.net/joinpcrn.html
Q: Is there any such thing as a “Family Membership?”
A: All PCRN Supporting Memberships are considered household memberships. Any spouse or offspring living in the same house are included in this membership.
Q: Are there any meetings for PCRN?
A: No, we try very hard not to clash with other Amateur Radio clubs. We always recommend membership in your local ham club.
Q: Is there a telephone number where I can call if I have specific questions or need help?
A: No, unfortunately, PCRN is operated by all volunteer members and these positions change from time to time, so there is no “official” telephone number or contact. The only real way to contact us is via the P.O. Box above, or by going to the web site: http://www.pcrn.net and sending one of us an email. Try contacting: email@example.com.
Q: Am I buying a service with my contribution?
A: No. We cannot guarantee anything. Again, PCRN is operated by volunteers who often put their own money and lots of their time into the effort to make up shortfalls when major repairs are needed.
This is not a business. PCRN has, however, operated and maintained a large complex network of linked repeaters for many years, so there is a track record established.
Q: Can I volunteer to help with some aspect of operating the PCRN?
A: We appreciate hearing from our members who believe they have something to offer PCRN. There are only a few “jobs” that need to be done - but we sometimes do have special needs. Drop us a note at the above P.O. Box, via the internet or email if you are interested in offering some sort of help.
Q: How big is the network?
A: It changes as new repeaters come on line and, occasionally, one will leave the network. Basically, it covers most of North Carolina, upper South Carolina, a large part of Virginia and some of West Virginia. The expandable nature of the linking system we use allows it to be much larger if we have repeater owners in other areas who are interested in being a part of this network.
Q: Let me get this straight - As a PCRN member, can I get on a local 2-meter repeater near the coast of North Carolina and connect to another repeater over in the mountains?
A: You certainly can, subject to the two locations having PCRN repeaters available.
Q: Can I use the auto patch on a distant repeater in order to make a phone call to someone?
A: No. PCRN requires that any linking repeater automatically disable its auto patch while the link is up. This is to prevent anyone from attempting to avoid making toll calls and, thereby, saving money (illegally).
Q: How can all the members use this network so much without causing interference with each other?
A: First of all - we ask our members to minimize the duration of each linking contact to no more than 10 minutes. We must remember that each time we link two repeaters; we are tying up both 2-meter repeaters and the backbone network as well. We do encourage members to use the linking system from time-to-time to ensure that they remember how to use it. Linking repeaters for training exercises or Skywarn presentations that may be of interest to PCRN members throughout the PCRN network’s coverage area is allowed only with prior approval of the PCRN control operators. If there is an emergency that requires use of the linking system, obviously, the network is available for all the time it takes to assist in needed communications to support helping with the emergency.
Q: Can more than two repeaters be linked at one time?
A: Yes, technically, all the repeaters in the network can be tied together at one time forming what amounts to one gigantic repeater! This is, obviously, ill-advised except for special occasions and wide-spread emergencies or disasters. If you mean can there be two sets of two repeaters links in two separate sessions simultaneously, the answer is no. There is but one backbone. The backbone consists of several frequencies (some 220 MHZ and some 440 MHZ) that tie various regions or “linking hubs” together.
Q: How many different repeaters are there in the network?
A: The current list of repeaters is available for viewing on the web page: www.pcrn.net
The Repeater List is included in the new membership packages as well as each time a membership is renewed.